Rescue group warns of peril on the ocean

Headshot of Peter Sweeney
Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group's vessel Nashira.
Camera IconGeraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group's vessel Nashira. Credit: Supplied, Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group

The Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group has given a blunt message to holiday ocean-goers.

“When a car breaks down, you can walk home. When a boat breaks down, it’s a little harder,” Ian Astill, the club’s training officer, said.

Yet another plea to “log on” when leaving shore comes after a 7m fibreglass cabin cruiser was towed to safety — in what were described as “near-perfect conditions — from near Pelsaert Island recently.

It was the first day after the lifting of the two-month ban on demersal fishing, and the ocean was choked with boats chasing a Christmas catch.

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The rescue group’s boat Nashira was sent out to “investigate” after a phone call came in at 11.12am.

A friend of the skipper sent the Mayday call.

Fifteen minutes later, Marine Rescue Jurien Bay received a Mayday message on a different channel and the co-ordinates matched the location of the original message.

“We put our vessel (Nashira) in the water as we had a report of a boat being in trouble about three nautical miles south of Pelsaert Island,” Mr Astill said.

“The crew were experiencing fuel problems with the boat. There was difficulties with radio communication, but we didn’t want to waste time getting to the area.

“The crew were so lucky as conditions couldn’t have been much better.

“There was a very small swell, no wind and they weren’t drifting fast or far. The Nashira located the boat in trouble around 1.30pm and towed them back into the (Geraldton) marina by 4.30pm.”

Mr Astill said the situation may not have had such a prompt and positive ending.

“We ask people to log on with us before they go out so we know you are out there,” he said.

“And it doesn’t matter how big your boat is, you can still get in trouble. It is the responsibility of skippers to ensure the boat is mechanically sound. It’s not our job to know if there’s anything wrong with boats.”

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